simple place

His hermitage…looked much the same as Merton left it, we were told. The back room held a narrow bed and a small stack of books, with three cassocks hanging in an alcove. The kitchen, which is only a wide place in the hall, held a sink, hot-plate, small refrigerator, and the only framed item in the place—a certificate from the Vatican conferring upon him the designation “Hermit.” His front room held the writing table, bookcase, rocking chair, and those large unadorned windows with the generous view of the woods and the cart-path meandering into the distance.

—Frederick Smock, Pax Intrantibus: A Meditation on the Poetry of Thomas Merton (Broadstone Books, 2007), p. 27


wave line

The poetic line lifts, rolls and crashes upon reason’s rocks.


reading with your lips moving

A poem that entered your mind through the eyes, yet instantly caused you to mouth the words.


night of the red pens

For godsake, don’t ever let your poetry workshop devolve into a coven of copy editors.


no hope for poetry now

My poetry impeded by the happiness and hope which pervades my spirit.


no fifth leg

Emerson loved language as much as any poet does, but he understood that reality is larger than language. If you call a dog’s tail a leg, how many legs does the dog have? The answer is four. Calling a tail a leg does not make it one. “All language,” says Emerson in “The Poet,” “is vehicular and transitive, and is good, as horses and ferries are, for conveyance, not as farms and houses are, for homestead.” Emerson did care for language—a great deal—but he always insisted that words do not exist as things in themselves, but stand for things which are finally more real than the words.

—Robert D. Richardson, First We Read, Then We Write: Emerson on the Creative Process (U. of Iowa Press, 2009)


reader subverts author

The poet spends an inordinate time arranging and ordering the poems in the collection, and then I just crack it open and start reading here & there.


drawn near

A metaphor implied solely by textual proximity.



An accidental occasional poem.


poet's song

Folk singers: poets who can play the guitar.


no word for that

[Valéry’s] horror of philosophic jargon is so convincing, so contagious, that one shares it forever after, so that one can no longer read a serious philosopher except with suspicion or distaste, henceforth rejecting any falsely mysterious or learned term. Most philosophy boils down to a crime of lèse-langage, a crime against the Word. Any professional expression—any profession of the schools—must be proscribed and identified with a misdemeanor. Anyone who, in order to settle a difficulty or solve a problem, invents a high-sounding, pretentious word, indeed a word at all, is unconsciously dishonest. In a letter to F. Brunot, Valéry once wrote, “It takes more intelligence to do without a word than to introduce one.”

—E.M. Cioran,“Valéry Facing His Idols,” Anathemas and Admirations (Quartet Books, Ltd, 1992), translated by Richard Howard.


words overflowing

The poem as a waterfall of words.


a lot on top

The title was a little over the top…but that's where it should reside.


unseasonal verse

It's a good idea to write a poem about the first of May in November or December, when you feel a desperate need for May.

—Vladimir Mayakovsky, How Are Verses Made? (1926)


selling short

The poor poet kept trying to sell out.


poets inside and out

The monastic poet half-dreaming at his desk in the attic stirred by the street poet declaiming from the stoop to passersby.


language control

To control loosely or to too loosely control or to lose control?


driving force

The repeated phrases gave the poem the hum of a good engine.